I’ve never been a believer in thinking up New Year’s resolutions because for one thing, they’re usually the stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish or delete all year long, and stressing over it during the last few days of every year, when life is stressful enough, just seems counterproductive to me. Having said that, some of my friends make them, and find the annual deadline helpful. Some even achieve them! Today’s Caregiver Magazine (who gave us an award for our book — thanks thanks!) has the same kind of suggestions that we, and virtually every other person who has done/seen or been recruited into caregiving subscribes to. If you’re a January 1-resolution-person, AND are a caregiver (though many of them work just as well for those who are simply trying to improve our own lives and live the best way we can day by day), they’re spot-on.
Here we are on day 22 with the Holidays approaching. Is drama the family’s normal state of being during the holidays? Are they restless? Do they flame childhood squabbles to create attention focused on them? Do you feel completely drained after the day is over?
Finding peace within yourself is one solution. Taking a vacation from the crazy family holiday is another. Being a 24/7 caregiver can be challenging enough, so don’t invite discord into your life. If the family insists on visiting, this could be a good time for you to take a well-deserved break. Leave. Take a drive or a long walk.
Remember…. You cannot control them (and you will NEVER fix them). You CAN take care of yourself, which is what you need to do to take care of your loved one once the holidays are over. You can choose do to what feels better for you!
What Matters Most? Finding your peace in the chaos.
When you are tired you feel disconnected, and it effects how you relate to those around you. Being tired increases stress, impairs cognition and can cause depression and anxiety. An easy fix is to go to bed early and avoid stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, TV and computers. Instead read a book or magazine (not on an electronic device), listen to soft music, meditate or pray.
What matters most? Creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
Our desire for you this month, dear caregiver, is to reconnect with yourself and find peace. You can start by doing something each day that makes you feel good. Get up early and enjoy a cup of coffee while you write or doodle in your journal. Read the paper, check emails, meditate or pray. Allow yourself fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time. Maybe you can build on the fifteen minutes and maybe not, but savor whatever time you can find the time everyday. Make it a ritual just for you!
What matters most? Giving yourself permission to do something each day for you!
Please join the OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters blog to celebrate ALL caregivers during National Family Caregivers’ Month. Caregivers are spouses, parents, siblings, children, relatives, friends and professional caregivers. A caregiver can be a person who lives alone and cares for themselves. This is your month to CELEBRATE YOU!!
Starting today we are dedicating this month to caregivers of every stripe with daily tips, support, humor and guidance to maintain your own wellbeing while caring for a loved one of any description. Look for tips from surprising resources. Please share this on your FB and LINKEDIN sites and help us honor those who provide care and support to those in need.
DAY 1 Journal
You’ve been working hard to take care of a loved one. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. As the days close in, begin to consciously nourish your body, mind and spirit. Start by journaling – even just a sentence or two – every day. Don’t make an inventory of the tasks you plan to (or feel you must) accomplish, but rather jot down your feelings about those tasks or about having them on your plate in the first place. Have fun with this. Write, draw or just doodle. If you can’t think of anything to write, write that down. (I don’t know what to write. I don’t know why I’m bothering. I feel alone in this…). Maybe come back to it later and see what comes up.
What matters most? Not what you write but that you take just a few moments for yourself to do it. It can free you in surprising ways.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m trying to edit my spaces with an eye to being better organized. I’m going through closets (appalling how much stuff you can stuff in a closet!) and drawers (ditto), including the filing cabinet (Yikes!), pulling out, burning what’s no longer needed or useful, what’s still important to keep. I’m also making sure I’ve got some of the key pieces of legal paperwork up to date as well — comforting and absolutely key to making life more streamlined, as Sue Collins, RN, and I detail in Ok Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing, 2014)*. If something happens — and something always does in my experience, regardless of how immune or immortal we feel– you don’t want your life to suddenly look like the Brueghel painting!
Below Ed Fee, Jr., partner in Whiteford Taylor Preston Law in Towson, MD, lists the basic documents everyone should have in place BEFORE something happens to you or someone you love.
Documents That Everyone Should Have
Everyone (caregivers included) should have three basic planning documents to provide instructions in the event of incapacity or death: A HEALTH DIRECTIVE for making medical decisions, A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY for making financial decisions, and A WILL to dispose of assets upon death.
A health care directive may include a living will for decisions concerning artificial life support, an appointment of health care agent, and instructions regarding organ donation.
A living will would apply if, for example, you are suffering from a terminal condition and death is imminent, or if you are in a persistent vegetative state. In these circumstances a living will allows you to provide instructions concerning the administration or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures in general, and nutrition, hydration, and medication in particular.
An appointment of health care agent allows you to designate someone else to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. The health care agent may be given authority to employ health care personnel, to gain access to medical and other personal information, and to consent (or refuse to consent) to medical care.
An organ donor form permits you to designate which organs you wish to donate and to restrict what the organs may used for, such as transplantation, research, or medical education.
A durable power of attorney permits you to designate someone else (called an attorney-in-fact) to make financial decisions in the event that you cannot make your own decisions. A power of attorney may grant authority that is as broad or as restricted as you wish. Generally, it is better to authorize broad powers so that your attorney-in-fact may deal with any situation that could arise.
Although a power of attorney is especially useful when someone becomes incapacitated, a power of attorney also may be used for convenience purposes. For example, suppose a frail elderly person is still mentally competent to make decisions, but simply doesn’t want to be bothered with paying bills and signing documents. A power of attorney would permit someone else to take care of these tasks instead.
A will allows you to dispose of assets upon death. Wills range from quite simple to incredibly sophisticated, usually depending upon the family situation, the nature of the assets, and the total amount involved. If you don’t have a will, then assets may pass according to state law. Sometimes the distributions under state law may be counterintuitive. For example, in some states, if you are married but have no children, a portion of your assets may pass to your parents rather than to your spouse.
Many states have statutory forms of health care directives and powers of attorney. Often, you may obtain these statutory forms from the website of the state Attorney General or the state bar association. Under the law of many states, there are few requirements for creating a valid will. If you write your wishes on a piece of paper, sign it, and get two witnesses to sign it, that may be enough to create a valid will. Although it is possible to create your own health care directive, power of attorney, and will, you may wish to consult an attorney to make sure that these documents do everything that you need them to do and are properly executed.